Supportive and Affordable Housing
Architects Cindy Harden and Claudia Goudas have over 22 years of experience in the development of affordable and supportive housing, and community-related projects. This page is dedicated to explaining what supportive and affordable housing is, the theory behind it, and the results the supportive and affordable housing model achieves for the people it serves.
What is Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing is a housing model where housing units are developed and restricted to rental rates deemed affordable for households with incomes at or below the median as determined by the national or local government based on an accepted housing affordability index.
In the United States, the commonly accepted guideline for determination of housing affordability is that the total housing cost, including utilities, should not exceed 30% of an eligible household's gross income.
In New York City, where EQ Architecture and Design is based, various organizations provide affordable housing. New York City lists a few organizations that provide affordable housing and their respective requirements for housing placement on their website, which you can find here.
EQ Architecture and Design has worked with the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health (PGCMH), and CAMBA Housing Ventures (CAMBA) to design and realize affordable housing developments all across New York City. You can find out more about our projects here.
What is Supportive Housing?
Supportive housing is a housing model where affordable housing is provided in conjunction with supportive social services. In the supportive housing developments EQ Architecture and Design is involved with, social services staff and facilities are located on-site and provide personalized support plans to each household.
Supportive housing developments typically have 60% of their units reserved for tenants eligible for supportive housing, and 40% of their units for tenants from the local community.
The on-site social service staff at supportive housing developments develop social and educational programs for the whole building, fostering community development and strengthening tenant resilience. All of the affordable housing developments that EQ Architecture and Design has realized have been supportive housing developments.
Supportive housing developments target individuals and families who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The goal of these developments is to provide struggling folks with permanent, affordable housing while providing access to the social services they need to continue to live independently in their communities.
Why Supportive & Affordable Housing?
The problem of chronic homelessness is two-fold: for many of the most vulnerable members of the community, both affordable housing and access to social services are necessary to thrive.
For people struggling with chronic physical and/or mental health conditions, maintaining stable housing and appropriate long-term health care can be difficult. By locating these vulnerable community members with critical social services, supportive housing developments are able to keep tenants housed and provide consistent aid over longer periods of time than if the tenants were displaced.
Longer-term assistance programs with dedicated on-site teams can better help tenants address physical health, mental health, and substance abuse conditions, can aid with obtaining gainful employment, and serve as a gateway to mainstream service systems like work training.
Supportive housing developments relieve stress on homelessness, corrections, and emergency healthcare services. A large portion of the cost of these services comes from a relatively small portion of the population, by addressing the costliest population, supportive housing developments can offset the cost of operating itself with the savings from the reduction of stress on other services.
In the case of families, chronic homelessness and mental illness can threaten their ability to stay intact. Affordable housing enables many homeless families to stay together, and supportive housing can better target those that use the child welfare system at higher rates to reduce the cost they introduce to the system.
The information in this section, along with the figures were sourced from an article by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found here.